Stop Forced Marriages

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Teenagers and women who want to live in another country must personally deregister from their municipality. If officials doubt the voluntariness of the departure there will be a personal interview mention may be made to the Center for Domestic Violence.

It is one of the measures taken by the government in the fight against forced marriage and abandonment of women in countries such as Morocco and Turkey. Minister Asscher of Social Affairs sent the action plan on Thursday to the House.

It is according to Asscher plausible, that there are hundreds of cases of forced marriages, in the Netherlands, every year. Exact figures are not available. It is not known how many women and children are left behind against their will in their country of origin, for example after holidays there.

From 12 years

At this moment one of the parents can deregister the family or family members. This allows the man to deregister his wife after he left her somewhere in Morocco or Turkey. It also happens that the father deregisters a daughter after a forced marriage in the country of origin. To avoid this in the future, everyone of 12 years and older must now personally notify the municipality with the request.

Officials are formally not allowed to ask for motives for deregistration. However, if they suspect that there is a case of forced abandonment, they may break out of their professional integrity and report their suspicion to the Center for Domestic Violence. A nationwide network must gather knowledge about recognizing these forms of domestic violence and how to deal with them. This network will be 24 hours reachable by phone (0900-1262626).

Embassy

Women who are abandoned abroad or who are forced into a marriage abroad, must now be helped by the Dutch embassy. If a victim reports and her safety is at stake, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must act immediately and start preparing identity papers, repatriation and arrange child care, writes Asscher.

On July 1, the punishment for forced marriages will be raised from  9 months to 2 years. Even if the forced marriage happens abroad, it is punishable in the Netherlands.

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